Typically, it’s your best friend or a family member who decides how to plan a bachelorette party. This person may be the most organized out of your wedding crew (like, really trustworthy with an Excel spreadsheet), but they still might face general questions about planning a bachelorette party. It’s a legitimate concern for many first-time or repeat wedding party members who want to reference a step-by-step guide as they map out the bride’s dream weekend with her besties. And that, we have.
Here’s a comprehensive bachelorette party checklist compiled to make your life easier. So the question will no longer be about how to plan a bachelorette party, but how to maximize this once-in-a-lifetime bash.
Steps to Planning a Bachelorette Party
If you’ve been tasked with planning the bach party or weekend, you’ll want a roadmap. Here’s a seven-step to planning a bachelorette party.
1. Determine the guest list
“This is the perfect excuse to get all your favorite people together,” says Odhner, who advises brides to decide who their core bachelorette attendees will be before determining a location. Group size will impact decisions about lodging and activities.
2. Pick a location
Several factors go into selecting a bachelorette destination. The first few—climate, vibe, and activity preferences—are obvious. Do you want hot or cold weather? Do you want it to be alcohol-free? Do you want to party in a club or relax in a secluded cabin? Do you want to go hiking in the woods or hit up fancy restaurants in a big city? Asking these questions will help whittle down options. From there, you’ll also want to consider your time of year and the cost of flights. If two destinations offer similar amenities but one is less expensive to travel to, your decision can sometimes be made for you.
3. Figure out your date
The host of the bachelorette party should work with the bride to select two to four dates that work best for her. From there, Odhner recommends to quickly and easily poll invitees on which of those dates they would and would not be able to attend. The final date can be selected from there.
4. Book your lodgings
For destination bachelorette weekends, Odhner recommends a group house rental over hotel rooms almost every time. “If it’s a large group—15 to 25—you may need to expand your search slightly outside of a city and realize you’re going to be spending time at the house,” she adds.
If you’re going the hotel route, Odhner suggests booking at least one suite. “That way there’s a communal place for people to pop in, have a glass of Champagne before they head out, or just hang out in during the morning,” she says. Because lodging is the bulk of the expense for a bachelorette weekend, it’s a good idea to ask invitees for the range they’re comfortable spending per night ($0 to 100, $100 to $200, $200 to $300, $300 and up) before booking your accommodations.
5. Plan your activities
For a regular two-day weekend, Odhner recommends two to three activities, plus some pre-scheduled downtime. “Whether it’s the night you arrive or a full day if you’re staying three days, there’s nothing wrong with [hanging out] at your house rental pool or doing something more low-key,” she says. Beyond hitting up clubs and bars, bachelorette activity options often include boat charters, spa activities, outdoor picnics, private yoga and fitness classes, walking tours, and group classes like candle-making or cooking lessons.
6. Arrange group meals
If you’ll be heading out to dinner or brunch with a large group, there are certain steps you can take ahead of time to make handling the bill less of a headache. “See if the restaurant is willing to put together a limited menu for the group that’s a set price and includes a certain number of drinks,” Odhner suggests. If that’s not possible, she recommends announcing at the beginning of the meal that the bill will be split evenly, and everyone should take that into consideration when placing their orders.
7. Confirm attendance
Four months ahead of the bachelorette, the host should have a good idea of base costs for lodging and activities. At this point, it’s a good idea to get back in touch with the group and share estimated costs, so invitees can make their final decisions about attending. Make it clear that attendees will still be on the hook for their portion of these expenses if they cancel after a certain date.
8. Take Charge
Once you settle on a location for the party, start the planning process by flat out asking the bride what is on her must-have and off-limits list. You may be surprised to find that your wildest friend has no interest in barhopping, or your conservative friend wants to wear a tiara and sash . . . the entire time. You may then be tempted to ask all the other guests for ideas or preferences. Consider this carefully. While sharing the planning load with one other trusted friend or bridesmaid can be helpful, planning by committee can be a total nightmare. Unless you’re going to schedule some seriously wild activities that might freak out one of the attendees (skydiving, group tattoos), assume that the bride’s friends will go along with anything you can cook up. At least, good friends should be good sports.
9. Budget Thoughtfully
It’s considerate to reach out to the group with a cost estimate for the festivities and suggest that people contact you individually with any concerns. Within reason, align your plans to fit the smallest budget. From here, one of the easiest ways to handle finances is to ask each of the guests to pay the organizer up front for all bridesmaid activities—hotel, meals, transportation, activities, any fun decorations, et cetera. This avoids the awkward “Hey, you haven’t paid me yet” emails post-event, Venmo algebra to sort out Uber costs, and the inevitable frustration when one person doesn’t want to split the dinner bill evenly. If there is any money left over post-event, return it to the guests. If you do decide to go this route, just be clear about what is and isn’t being covered.